Back in September I wrote a post that I never published about letting go of what I feel I “should” do. I was sitting in a guesthouse in Kuressaare, Estonia trying to decide whether I should stay in my room and relax like I really wanted to or brave less-than-ideal weather to see the island as I felt I should do.
A day earlier I had forced myself out to see more of Tallinn on my last day in the city. The previous week had been a hectic rush of sightseeing through Helsinki and Tallinn and I was exhausted. But the weather was sunny and 70 – absolutely perfect and better than expected. I felt like I should be out and about, not sitting in the hostel on my laptop. Not surprisingly, my heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t really enjoy anything I saw that day.
So when I was sitting there in Kuressaare, I promised myself I would spend the rest of my career break travels doing things I want to do – not things I just feel I should do for one reason or another.
I thought back on that promise recently as I wavered over how to spend New Year’s Eve.
Back in October, I booked a bed in a hostel in Krakow, wanting to ring in the New Year the same way I did a couple years ago when I said hello to 2009 in Prague. I liked this idea at the time as I pictured a big party outside in the old town square and fireworks at midnight – very similar to Prague. I also kind of secretly hoped that Krakow might be an attractive enough destination that I could find someone to meet up with me there. No luck.
In early December my hostel sent out an email saying that the traditional celebration on the square in Krakow had been cancelled – and it sounded like clubbing was the most likely alternative. Yuck. Suddenly I lost all desire to spend New Year’s Eve in Krakow.
Yet there was that voice in my head telling me I should do something cool for New Year’s – especially since I am on the road. I felt this self-imposed pressure to forge ahead with Krakow because it might make for a better story. And there were my friends on Facebook all encouraging me to still go to Krakow.
I went with my gut and decided to stay in Warsaw.
I spent the week leading up to New Year’s Eve reaching out to people at my hostel and on Couchsurfing, looking for possible companions with whom to ring in 2012. I came up empty. I figured I could still head down to Pl. Konstytucija for an outdoor concert and midnight fireworks on my own, but in the end I realized I really didn’t want to.
I had reserved a hotel room for the weekend, not wanting to risk being stuck in a hostel again with a bunch of raucous twenty-something club kids. And I decided to stay in my room, watching college basketball and football online, catching up on blog posts and editing photos, with BBC World News on in the background and fireworks going off outside my window.
And I couldn’t have been happier.
While I wrote about my goals and resolutions for 2012 earlier, I think I missed a big one.
I admit that I sometimes worry too much about what people think of me, what they think of this trip, what they think of what I am doing on this trip. I sometimes wonder if I’d get more attention or attract more readers if I was traveling somewhere a little more conventional, like Southeast Asia or South America. And I sometimes feel like I am disappointing people because I don’t have a plethora of hilarious stories and crazy encounters to share. I worry that I may be too boring (as someone actually commented on a post a couple weeks ago).
I need to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. I need to remember that this is my trip and I am the only one who can shape it into what I want it to be.
While I write this blog for my friends, family, acquaintances and readers I haven’t even met yet, at the end of the day, I am traveling for me.
And I need to travel on my terms.